Nigeria has always been on the cusp of greatness. With a population that skews on the youth side and a growing breed of bedroom developers increasingly willing to take the plunge into formal entities, the country could realize its potential as the continents games industry powerhouse.
Unlike most countries, however, tastes and interests run apart from the traditional. Mostly owed to the realities of the technologies involved, this puts the nation in an interesting place in the gaming world.
In the early days of video game consoles, before the popularisation of the internet, video gaming in Nigeria had shown some degree of struggle. Around the late ’80s, gaming consoles like the NES and Master System had only limited releases, and this limited availability meant that only the highest bidders could afford to get their hands on a unit.
While this meant that a generation largely missed out, it also helped prove demand which led to a much-improved availability for the following generations. This was best illustrated by the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 systems onwards, up until online integration became key around the PS3 and Xbox 360 era.
The unfortunate reality since then has been that, due to how Nigeria’s typical approach to gaming works, and its limited overall internet infrastructure, online gaming has been hamstrung. In fact, the biggest online systems of Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus are still not officially supported, though they are accessible with a little hard work, and pretending your location is elsewhere.
Instead, the largest point of interest in Nigerian gaming, so far, has been born from the mobile gaming market. A good portion of this success is undoubtedly due to how much better mobile games can work with generally slower connections. The same can often be said even in countries with good wired connections, which can also struggle with mobile connection quality.
Over time, these methods of implementation have created a sort of feedback loop, where increased interest generates more supply, and increased supply gives the greater demand an avenue to pursue. Even if online connections are still limited in console play for many of us, the console market continues to reliably expand. From $1.5 million in 2014 to $12 million in 2023, this trend is still very much on the rise.
It took a while, but eventually, a period where all the best consoles that the rest of the world had to play with was achieved. Similarly, it might have taken a few years, but internet appears to be following the same path. With any luck, future generation of consoles could mark a ground floor entry. Even then, there will still exist mobile methods and that seems to suit most players just fine.
The Investor Perspective
Large consumer base
As one of the most populous countries in the world and Africa the continent also plays host to one of the youngest demographics. The country’s population is growing at 2.6% a year, one of the fastest rates globally. At this rate, Nigeria’s population could double within the next 25 to 30 years.
Nigeria’s population structure is potentially an economic asset. The country has the largest population of youth in the world, with a median age of 18.1 years. About 70% of the population are under 30, and 42% are under the age of 15. The size and youthfulness of the population offer great potential to expand Nigeria’s capacity as the regional economic hub of Africa and globally.
Financial, economic and political powerhouse
The countrys is a behemoth economically compared to its African counterparts, but the threat of a global recession has already begun to have adverse consequences. Nigeria’s economy grew faster than forecast by the central bank and government last year. However, growth will decelerate, averaging 3.2% during 2022– 23, due to persistent low oil production and rising insecurity. Inflation is projected to remain elevated at 16.9% in 2022 and to stay above pre-pandemic levels in 2023, fueled mainly by rising food, diesel, and gas prices and persistent supply disruptions amplified by the Russia– Ukraine conflict.
Blossoming telecommunications market
Nigeria is also home to the most lucrative telecoms market in Africa, which is growing at twice the African average. The explosion of industries such as the mobile telecommunications market and the unparalleled success of foreign companies such as South Africa’s MTN have demonstrated that potential can be turned into reality.
Enticing tax incentives
The Nigerian government has put in place a comprehensive package of investment incentives to stimulate private sector investment from within and outside the country. Among them are the Companies Income Tax Act which has been amended to encourage potential and existing investors and entrepreneurs; Pioneer status gives industries a fiveyear tax holiday; and tax relief is provided for research and development.
Voice of the Developer
“The whole amount of money made by Hollywood and the whole amount of money made by all of these big music stars when you put them together doesn’t compare to how much money games generate. The second thing is that we also have a large consumer audience. All of these mobile phones we have on our hands are smart devices and they offer different forms of entertainment.” “The third thing is economic empowerment. If you build a game and launch it you have direct access to a global market. You can monetize your game and earn revenue from the game that you created in the same way that a musician or an artist can create content and generate revenue. You can do the same.”Hugo Obi, Founder & CEO Maliyo Games
Events and Community
Nigeria has a thriving community of creators being supported by an increasing number of developer focused initiatives. GameUp Africa is one such program specified for training young Africans on Game Development.
AfricaComicade is another although its focus is spread across a number of creative segments including animation and XR.